THERMAL, Calif. (AP) – A California high school is redesigning its mascot of an Arab after an Arab-American group complained that the portrayal of a snarling, mustached man is steeped in offensive stereotypes. Coachella Valley High School, however, wants to keep the mascot to reflect the region east of Los Angeles’ date-growing history.
The controversy over ethnic mascots is hardly new. Many experts say using any human being as a mascot is demeaning regardless of the depiction, though communities at times have been reluctant to cede old traditions.
In recent years, scores of professional, collegiate and high school sports teams have rid themselves of ethnic mascots and logos, or modified them, while others have defended the use of the images. Here are some examples of what teams have done:
_ WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Team officials defend the name even as critics hold demonstrations and President Barack Obama suggests he would consider a name change if he owned the team.
_ CLEVELAND INDIANS: The team continues to use the image of Chief Wahoo despite criticism from those who find it offensive.
_ UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, URBANA-CHAMPAIGN: The team retired Chief Illiniwek as a mascot in 2007. The school kept the name of the Fighting Illini.
_ COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY: The college in Williamsburg, Va., dropped Indian feathers from its logo after the NCAA found the image could be offensive. The school kept the name the Tribe and recently adopted a new mascot: the Griffin.
_ FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY: The school in Tallahassee has kept its team name of the Seminoles. The NCAA allowed the name because of the team’s close relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
_ UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS, AMHERST: After a group of American Indians complained in 1972, the school ceased calling its teams the Redmen. Teams are now known as the Minutemen, and women’s teams as Minutewomen.
_ UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA: The school dropped the Fighting Sioux nickname after failing to obtain approval from the state’s two namesake tribes under an NCAA settlement. The team currently does not have an official nickname or mascot.
Associated Press writer Dave Kolpack contributed to this report from Fargo, N.D.
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